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Joanne Rogers, widow of Fred Rogers, dies at 92

Joshua Axelrod, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on

Published in Entertainment News

PITTSBURGH — Joanne Rogers was so much more than just Fred Rogers' adoring wife.

The two married in 1952, and she remained by his side until his death in 2003. Though her husband's fame skyrocketed thanks to the success of "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood," Mrs. Rogers also was able to carve out a successful niche of her own as a professional pianist, teacher and advocate of decency and kindness in Pittsburgh and beyond.

"Joanne Rogers was one of a kind," said Bill Isler, who lives in Squirrel Hill and is president emeritus of Fred Rogers Productions. "She was an amazing human being. She endeared herself to everybody."

Rogers died Thursday at the age of 92. Fred Rogers Productions confirmed her passing.

"Fred Rogers Productions is deeply saddened by the passing of Joanne Rogers," the organization said in a statement to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "The loving partner of Fred Rogers for more than 50 years, she continued their shared commitment to supporting children and families after his death as chair of the board of Fred Rogers Productions.

"Joanne was a brilliant and accomplished musician, a wonderful advocate for the arts and a dear friend to everyone in our organization. We extend our heartfelt condolences to Joanne's family and the thousands of people who had the privilege of knowing and loving her."

 

Remembrances poured in immediately following the news of her death, including from Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto.

"Through her grace, humor and down-to-earth demeanor, Joanne Rogers personified what we love about the City of Pittsburgh," he said in a statement. "As the partner of Fred Rogers for a half-century, she helped champion his good works to a global audience, and remained committed to his vision and to this city after his passing.

"She was always there when we needed her. I and countless others, from every walk of life, were humbled to call her a friend."

Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald said in a statement about Mrs. Rogers' death that "it is a sad day in our neighborhood," and he gave his "deepest sympathies to her family and friends on this great loss."

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